By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — Women’s organizations from all over Cordillera gathered in Bontoc, Mountain Province on November 29 in observance of the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. They marched towards the Provincial Capitol and held a program capping the 8th Congress of Innabuyog Alliance of Womens Organizations in Cordillera (Innabuyog-Gabriela).
According to Innabuyog Chairperson Virgie Dammay, women human rights defenders in the Cordillera are under attack under the tyrannical anti-women Duterte presidency.
“As reported by delegates, women HRDs in the Cordillera continue to experience harassments, militarization of villages, and trumped-up charges,” she said.
Dammay also decried the tagging of womens’ organizations in the villages as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) by soldiers of the 7th ID. She said the military unit has been harassing members of peoples’ organizations who are opposing the entry of destructive projects such as dams, mining and energy.
“This resulted in widespread fear in our communities who have been neglected by the government for the longest time,” the women leader added.
She said the worsening poverty of families in the Cordillera stem from Duterte’s anti-poor policies such as the TRAIN. She further explained that women bear the burden of sustaining the needs of their families for food such as rice and milk.
“The health and well-being of our children are in greater risk now more than ever,” pointed Dammay, adding that “women HRDs and their families are subjected to state terrorism to stop them from doing their development work in the communities.”
Dammay also raised the case of Rachel Mariano, a volunteer health worker and development activist, who is now imprisoned for fabricated murder charges filed by soldiers under the 81st IB in Ilocos Sur.
While five women leaders in the Cordillera are also tagged as terrorists by the government despite the recognition of the international community for their contributions in defending indigenous peoples rights and the environment.
“These attacks continue to trample on our rights as indigenous peoples to our ancestral lands, human rights and dignity” she said.
Dammay challenged her fellow Cordillera women to resist the tyranny and state terrorism of the Duterte regime and called on them to “continue, overcome fear, consolidate our ranks and intensify the struggle” for their children. # nordis.net